Glaciers & Waterfalls

In Iceland, opposites attract. Glaciers on top of volcanoes; lush greenery next to frozen tundra; icebergs on black sand beaches; dark skies filled with shimmering lights. To have such extremes in close proximity seems implausible but that pretty much sums up Iceland. Expect the unexpected here.

The ‘Glaciers and Waterfalls’ tour encompasses all of Iceland’s highlights at a relaxed pace. Visit the Golden Circle, Skaftafell, Jokulsarlon Lagoon, Reykjadalur Valley, Reykjavík and the Reykjanes peninsula. Seize the opportunity to hike a glacier, visit an ice cave, go white-water rafting, horse riding, whale watching or dog sledding. At the end of the day, soak in the hot springs and hunt for the Northern Lights. This is a perfect introduction to the Land of the Vikings.

Family Adventure Holidays - Trip Duration

Family Adventure Holidays - Departure Dates
Iceland - Glaciers & Waterfalls - Trip Map
Family Adventure Holidays - Minimum Age

Family Adventure Holidays - Activity Level

What's included

  • Flights: Direct return flights from UK regional airports to Keflavik (KEF)
  • Transport: Car hire from airport pick-up to airport drop-off
  • Accommodation: 7 nights in characterful hotels or cabins
  • Meals: Breakfasts where stated
  • Trip Pack: Key family-friendly information about the country you are visiting with recommended activity links, places to eat and fun facts

Trip highlights

  • Explore mud pools and fumaroles in Geysir and Gunnuhver
  • Visit Vatnajökull glacier and Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon
  • Hike amongst hot springs in the Reykjadalur Valley
  • Journey to the Westman Islands to experience volcanic museums & puffin colonies
  • Chill out in cafes & geo-thermal swimming pools in Rekyjavik
  • Experience the breath-taking Northern Lights in winter

Key facts

  • When can we go? All year round
  • What type of tour is it? Private self-drive tour
  • Who is it suitable for? For active families that enjoy nature and the great outdoors, maybe also a few geography nerds (like us at Wandering Tribe)
  • What is the minimum age? We would recommend a minimum age of 6 years for this trip but this is just a guide; our itineraries can be adapted, no problem, for families with younger children

Guide price

We publish ‘guideline prices’ for both the high and low season to give a reasonable estimate of what you might expect to pay per person based on a family of four (two adults, two children) - to get an accurate price based on your estimated departure date and party size please contact us directly

Guide Price: Oct to Apr - £988pp

Guide Price: May to Sept - £1,048pp

Iceland Adventure Holiday - Trip itinerary

DAY 1: Arrival in Reykjavík

Arrive at the airport, pick up your hire car and transfer to the most Northerly capital city in the world. Wandering Tribe officially loves Reykjavík! It's colourful, quirky and bursting with culture. You can explore shops, art galleries, museums, cafes and thermal pools!

A fabulous option for families is to visit Laugardalur, just a few kilometres out of town. Here you'll find a large swimming complex (fed by a geothermal spring), a spa, cafe, skating rink, botanical gardens, plus a kids' zoo and recreation park. It's located near the Reykjavík Art Museum, which is great for modern art and sculpture.

Back in the city centre a nice walk along the seafront will take you to the Harpa Concert Hall and on to the harbour with boat trips galore. We would also highly recommend visiting the video museum that showcases everything you need to know about Iceland and the open-air living museum set around a series of lovingly-restored homes. We would also suggest climbing the stairs at Hallgrimskirkja Church to get that famous photo shot of the city.

Take a few hours to wander around and enjoy this eclectic city which will be your base for the night.

Fun Facts: Per capita Iceland has the highest number of book and magazine publications in the world and 10% of the country’s population will publish a book in their lifetime!

Optional Activities: Whale watching, husky dog sledging (all year round but dry land May-Dec) and snowmobiling (all year round).

DAY 2: Geysir & Gullfoss – The Golden Circle

From Reykjavík drive towards Þingvellir National Park. Þingvellir is the cultural centre of Icelandic heritage as well as being the geologic meeting point of two tectonic plates. Your next stop should be Laugarvatn which means a "lake for bathing”. The bottom of this shallow lake is riddled with hot springs making it perfect for swimming. There is another pool nearby which has a geothermal bakery for making pot-baked lava bread making it an ideal stop for lunch.

Next travel to the Geysir Geothermal Area. The most reliable eruption comes from Strokkur and occurs every 10 minutes, firing jets of hot water and steam 30 metres into the air. Continue on to Gullfoss Waterfall; magnificent, thunderous and generating enough hydroelectricity to power Reykjavík, it’s located on the Hvita River, where water from the Langjokull glacier drops 32m into the canyon. Finish your day at the Secret Lagoon, Iceland’s first swimming pool and only recently rediscovered. There are also some lovely horseriding tours for families around this area enjoying the beautiful landscape of the Syðra-Langholt farm.

Spend the night in the southern area of the Golden Circle where it is easy to rejoin Route 1 in the morning.

Fun Facts: Sigríður Tómasdottir (the daughter of the landowner who owned Gullfoss) threatened to throw herself into the falls if the land was sold. As a result, her father refused to ever sell and the falls were made into a reserve.

Optional Activities: Snorkelling tour of the Silfra fissure, geothermal baths, horse-riding, dog sledding, earthquake simulator

DAY 3: Southern Ring Road – Rainbows & Glaciers

Spend today exploring the beautiful southern coastline of Iceland. To get into the spirit visit the Saga Centre for an introduction to the magical world of Sagas and Vikings before heading east on Route 1. Your next stop should be spectacular Seljalandsfoss waterfall which rises 200 feet in the air and has a short trail that takes you behind the waterfall itself (wear good boots and a waterproof jacket as you will get wet).

After a short drive you will come to the Eyjafjallajökull volcano which erupted in 2010 halting European flights for six days. Directly underneath the Eyjafjöll mountains also sits a peculiar rock formation housing picturesque cow sheds with strong ties to elf-lore making it a magical stop for children. Only a few minutes away lies one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls: Skógafoss. There are usually horses and sheep dotting the hillside, making for a storybook landscape.

Your final visit of the day should be the Skaftafell Visitors Centre. This is close to Vatnajökull, Europe's biggest glacier where the battle between fire and ice is still being fought on a daily basis. You can watch a short film about the 1996 eruptions. The two-hour family glacier hike is highly recommended - crunch in your crampons and experience blue ice holes, deep crevasses and volcanic ash.

Stay overnight in one of the unique accommodation options in the Skaftafell area.

Fun Facts: Iceland’s only native land mammal, the Arctic Fox, can be found in Skaftafell National Park.

Optional Activities: Glacier hike, Icelandic Saga Centre, Lava Centre.

DAY 4: Jokulsarlon Lagoon & Höfn - Icebergs & Harbours

The glacial lagoon at Jokulsarlon is about 30 mins drive from Skaftafell. It may look familiar as it has served as the backdrop for two James Bond movies, Lara Croft and Batman Begins. It is an otherworldly, surreal landscape of glacial water and icebergs boasting every array of blue imaginable. Make sure you take the short walk down to the beach which is littered with all shapes and sizes of glacial ice – it’s like visiting an exhibition of ice sculptures. Also, keep an eye out for the seals.

After the beauty of Jokulsarlon, head to Höfn for lunch. You might like to stop at the petting zoo along the way to see baby goats, lambs and geese. Höfn quite simply means ‘harbour’ and is pronounced like an unexpected hiccup. It has a stunning setting on the shores of the breathtaking Hornafjörður and in the shadows of the majestic Vatnajökull glacier. We would recommend checking out the colourful boats in the harbour and following the walking trail to the nature reserve before heading to the local museum or geothermal swimming pool.

Travel back to the Skaftafell area for your second night.

Fun Facts: The strange lava formations that can be found around the country were once thought to be trolls who had turned to stone when caught outdoors in daylight.

Optional Activities: Boat trip on glacier lagoon, crystal ice cave tour, petting zoo, museum.

DAY 5: Vik - Canyons & Cliffs

Between Skaftafell and Vik we would recommend visiting the ancient river canyon of Fjaðrárgljúfur, often described as one of the most beautiful in the world and a personal favourite of ours! This is Jurassic Park meets Game of Thrones brought to you by the Ice Age. A little further along Route 1 are the unique, moss-covered lava fields of the brightest shade of emerald green.

Arrive in Vik in time for lunch then head to the dramatic rock formations at Dyrholaey where you can take a cliff-top walk overlooking the black sand beach. You may also spot some puffins and explore the lighthouse. If you are feeling especially active you could take an ATV quad bike tour of the black sand beaches, go snowmobiling to the top of nearby Mýrdalsjökull glacier; an icecap covering one of Iceland’s largest volcanoes, Katla or go glacier horse-riding on pure-bred Icelandic horses.

Spend the night in Vik.

Fun Facts: In 1973 a United States Navy DC plane ran out of fuel and crashed on the black beach at Sólheimasandur, near Vik. Fortunately, everyone in that plane survived. The remains are still on the beach to this day.

Optional Activities: Quad bike tour, snowmobiling glacier tour, glacier horse-riding.

DAY 6: Westman Islands - Volcanoes & Rivers

Today is all about exploring this unique landscape and finding out what makes it so special. This morning we would recommend taking an optional 35-minute ferry crossing over to the Westman Islands. Referred to as the “Pompeii of the North”, the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar in Icelandic), is a chain of 15 islands with stunning landscapes and the largest puffin colony in the world. The islands are also one of Iceland’s best-kept secrets. In the summer months, you could take a boat cruise or rib safari to see pods of orca’s or cuddle a puffin in the aquarium. We would also highly recommend visiting the fascinating museum dedicated to the 1973 volcanic eruption.

Back on the mainland it is time to embark on a family-friendly hike. Iceland is full of beautiful contradictions - hot & cold, light & dark, lush greenery & frozen tundra and this short hike is a great example of this, filled with hot springs, mud pools, canyons and waterfalls. In summer it is a spectacle of colour – bright green grass, milky blue pools, white steam vents, grey mud pots and yellow patches of algae. We would recommend finishing your day here where the combination of hot springs and rainwater makes it the perfect temperature for bathing in the river.

Suitably refreshed head to your accommodation near Hveragerði which will be the base for your final two nights.

Fun Facts: At 1.55 am on January 23rd 1973 a huge volcanic eruption began without any sign of warning on the outskirts of Vestmannaeyjar town on Heimaey Island. It forced the entire population to evacuate their homes and set sail to mainland Iceland. The eruption lasted for six months.

Optional Activities: Boat cruise, rib safari, aquarium, eruption museum.

DAY 7: Reykjanes Peninsula - Lava Fields & Lighthouses

Spend today exploring the Reykjanes peninsula. More than half of the peninsula is covered with lava flows. Experience the wild coastal views from the lighthouse and the billowing clouds of sulphurous steam that define Gunnuhver. Here the ground feels alive - you can witness bubbling mud pools, steam vents and hot springs against an otherworldly backdrop. Nearby you have the option of visiting Iceland’s most famous geothermal pool – the Blue Lagoon. These mineral-rich, milky blue pools are the temperature of a hot bath.

Driving east, you could explore the large, eerily still lake and the beautifully preserved wooden church set next to the ocean. Stop for cake and coffee in Þorlákshöfn and continue on to one of Iceland’s most impressive cave formations. Some spelunking would make a perfect end to the day.

Fun Facts: Gunnuhver is named after an angry female ghost whose spirit is said to have been trapped in the hot springs 400 years ago.

Optional Activities: Blue Lagoon, lava tube cave.

DAY 8: The Journey Home

Head to the airport for your flight back home to the UK.

Wandering Tribe has travelled to all of the destinations that we feature and we like nothing better than talking about them. If you would like further information about these tours or a tailor-made quote then please contact us on 07392 742333. Alternatively you can fill in the contact form and we will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.